Monday, July 15, 2024

Residential areas could soon face garbage collection fees; SPTC warns against illegal dumping


The garbage issue continues to be a big problem on Ambergris Caye, and according to the San Pedro Town Council (SPTC), a large chunk of their budget goes towards tackling this growing issue. As a result, the SPTC is experiencing an increase in trash disposal expenses, and the administration is debating whether to start charging garbage fees in residential areas. Currently, only businesses are charged for garbage collection. The town council also warns residents of illegal dumping and to refrain from using hazardous waste as landfill. Property owners failing to adhere could be penalized with fines for not complying.

Mayor Gualberto ‘Wally’ Nuñez said that the Solid Waste Transfer Station located south of the island will start charging the SPTC for collecting rubbish beginning in 2022. Despite this upcoming additional expense for the town council, the Mayor said they are trying to see if they can absorb the cost, considering many residents are still struggling financially with the pandemic. “We have not gotten to the point that we will be charging. We will see first what we can do so we do not have to charge,” said Nuñez. He further added that they are looking at different ways to deal with the garbage situation on the island and appeals to the community to help dispose of their rubbish and comply with the laws aimed at keeping San Pedro clean, beautiful, and healthy.

Illegal dumping

Nuñez indicated that he is aware of specific areas on the island where all types of trash are dumped onto empty lots. While he is aware that some landowners may need to fill in their lots, using hazardous waste is illegal and proper material such as sand, white marl or biodegradable matter is recommended. Regarding some lots, particularly in northern Ambergris Caye, strewn with all types of trash, Nuñez claims the property owner was given an ultimatum.

Current Garbage Situation

As per residents commuting up north, the piles of rubbish are next to the northern road creating a massive eyesore. Among the trash, there are discarded electrical appliances that are considered hazardous for the surrounding natural environment. Nuñez said that he is aware of this case and that the Department of Environment (DOE) and his team are monitoring the situation. If no progress is made in removing most of the waste (inorganic), both the SPTC and DOE could issue a fine. Illegal dumping carries a minimum fine of $500.

The SPTC appeals to the public to help maintain the island as clean as possible, making it more attractive for tourism- the bread and butter of the island. Illegal dumping not only gives the island a bad image but also pollutes the surrounding ecosystems, like the barrier reef, which supports the tourism industry that fuels the local economy.

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